Fota Pollinator Trail – Station 10

Solitary Bees

Did you know? …

In Ireland we have 98 different species of solitary bee! There are 21 different kinds of bumblebee and 77 are other types of solitary bees.

Unlike social bees, most solitary female bees prefer to make their nest alone with no assistance from other individuals. Solitary bees find or make holes themselves to lay eggs in. Some dig tunnels in the ground while others nest in south facing stone walls, masonry, wooden structures or commercially available bee boxes.

Only a small number of Ireland’s solitary bees (15 of the 77 species) are cavity nesting bees who nest in south facing stone walls, masonry wooden structures or commercially available bee boxes.

The other 62 species (or 80%)are mining bees that burrow into bare ground or south/east facing banks.

Wild bees are not aggressive, so it’s perfectly safe to have them nesting in your garden!

The Plight of Our Solitary Bees

Sadly, one third of our 98 wild bee species are threatened with extinction from Ireland.

These valuable lone pollinators are in decline due to:

  • Habitat Loss (Homelessness)
  • Decline in wildflower forage (Hunger)
  • Pests and Disease (Sickness)
  • Pesticides (Poisoning)
  • Climate Change (Changing Environment)

How Can You Help?

  • You could create some attractive “bee real-estate” by simply scraping away some grass in flat sunny spots of your garden to create nesting areas for these solitary bees.
  • Install a wild bee lodge –either make your own simple version (lots of guidelines available online) or there are many different types sold commercially. Be aware however that these should be installed 1-1.5 metres from the ground, preferably facing south/south-east in a sheltered but not shady spot.
  • Check out: www.pollinators.ie and www.biodiversityireland.ie for loads of guidance on how to help. You may even wish to take part in “Actions for Pollinators”.
  • Here is some more information on solitary bees and bumblebees.
OPW Office of Public Works logo
Fota House, Arboretum and Gardens, Irish Heritage Trust logo
Irish Bee Conservation Project logo